k. / Karla Schickele

Goldfish

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A well-rounded and varied follow-up to 2001's New Problems, Karla Schickele (aka K.)emerges all the more confident and accomplished on Goldfish. With generous doses of piano, pedal steel, and intriguing melodies, she genuinely surprises with the uniform excellence of the album's ten tracks. Still visiting the formative streams that nurtured her growth as a songwriter in Ida and Beekeeper, Schickele certainly comes into her own with the sultry "Ballad," the dark indie pop of "Bounty," and an excellent trio of bounding, slightly off-kilter piano tunes. In fact, Schickele can almost come off sounding a bit like fellow balladeer Shannon Wright on certain tunes, as her vocals are both elastic enough to accompany her through her various musical excursions and expressive enough to lend a certain weight to the songwriting. Further, her stream-of-consciousness lyricism is an undeniable strength, making the songs sound even more exotic and elliptical than they already do. Her truly first-rate remake of Moby Grape's "I Am Not Willing" is an absolute highlight, proving that should she ever decide to go for a second career in Americana, she wouldn't have to stretch much. All in all, an album that marks Schickele's true arrival as a solo artist.

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